Do not write a novel about coronavirus! 8 cultural guidelines to get you through lockdown

As we all follow government advice about hand-washing and social distancing, Ellie Harrison offers up some more extremely vital laws to live by

Wednesday 01 April 2020 15:03 BST

The strange new world we live in is full of rules and regulations about how we live our lives. Do wash your hands for 20 seconds! Do not meet up in groups! Do stand two metres away from each other!

But since the UK went into lockdown, many of us have started acting a little strangely, doing things we’d never have dreamt of before and generally making deranged creative decisions left, right and centre. It’s a situation that simply cannot be tolerated.

I present to you, therefore, my cultural guidelines to get you through the coronavirus crisis.

Do not murder classic songs by attempting your own cover version

When the video emerged of Gal Gadot, Natalie Portman and other Slebs earnestly singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” in an attempt to cheer everyone up about coronavirus, the world fought back the collective urge to vomit. People mocked it for being “cringey” and “out of touch”, comedians parodied it, and Nick Cave called it “the most panic-inducing version ever recorded”.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Do dress up as if you’re going to the theatre in your living room

During lockdown, every day blurs into the next and it’s hard to remember what That Friday Feeling actually is. One night this week, try whacking on your best bib and tucker as if you’re actually off to the theatre, and settle down to stream plays from the comfort of your own living room. With an appallingly large cocktail in hand, of course.

Do not write a novel about coronavirus - no one wants to read it

Right now, in homes across the nation, aspiring authors are sitting down to write some of the worst novels in history. If you’re reading this, please trust me and stop right now. Stop it.

Do watch films that have gorgeous outside settings

Cabin fever is a dangerous thing. It can make us lash out in unexpected ways. Resist the temptation to strangle your housemates/family/pets/self and instead watch fresh-air films like Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Free Solo and Captain Fantastic to get the breather you need.

Do not watch Contagion and then bang on about how it’s “basically real life!” to anyone who will listen

Scaremongering is a crime of the highest order during lockdown. By all means, watch Contagion, the 2011 film about the worldwide spread of a deadly virus. But please don’t go on about how a movie in which 70 million die from a disease feels very true to life. It’s just not good for the soul (or, hopefully, accurate).

Gwyneth Paltrow experiences the side effects of a global pandemic in the 2011 thriller 'Contagion'

Do not use your phone while watching a film

We’ve all been there. Watching a movie with a scene that speaks to us on a level we’ve never experienced before. Fat tears begin to roll down our cheeks and before we know it a guttural sob is bursting from our bodies. We glance over to share a moment of solidarity with our film buddy and they’re, oh no, surely not, they’re watching an Instagram influencer make a banana smoothie on their phone. They’re not even watching the film.

It’s a rubbish feeling when this happens. Please do not inflict this on anybody.

Gal Gadot in mid-flow as she leads an earnest rendition of 'Imagine'

Do learn something new

Why not take up a bit of sculpting and create clay versions of your friends and family? It’s an inventive new way of offending people around you, after all, and I’m sure we’re all running out of those at this point. Or a spot of poetry? A limerick, perhaps, about the state of the nation? Or pick up that guitar that’s been gathering dust in the corner of your room. You can do anything! (Except perform a cover version of “Imagine”.)

Do not only watch old repeats of your favourite shows

Try to resist the urge to stream Friends and Sex and the City for the zillionth time. I know, I know, they are very comforting, but it's time to live a little (within the confines of your own home). This is an opportunity to watch series you've always meant to get around to, like Mad Men and The Wire, or new shows that are about to come out, from Normal People to Killing Eve season three.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in